words // Brandon Richard
It's nearly impossible to overlook the great strides adidas made in 2011, finding new ways to make headlines and churn out great footwear in various ranges. From their groundbreaking "All In" marketing campaign to the introduction of the adiZero Crazy Light to Derrick Rose's NBA MVP campaign, the Trefoil was in your face all year long. There's no reason to believe that adidas won't have a bigger year in 2012.
Read on for a look at some of the best shoes from 2011 to bear that familar 3-Stripe branding and be sure to check our other "Best Of..." lists as well.
The lists keep on coming - be sure to look out for more when you download Sole Collector's January iPad Issue.
When Derrick Rose requested a one night only wear of the adidas Crazy 8 in place of his own signature line against the Miami Heat back in February, it was the first time we really saw his selling power on display. The would-be MVP laced up the colorway created to represent the Louisville Cardinals, which conveniently matched Chicago's uniforms. Derrick recorded a line of 26 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in a big win for the Bulls. As a result, the newly-christened "Derrick Rose" Crazy 8 sold out at retailers everywhere.
Not only is legendary emcee Snoop Dogg an official partner of adidas Originals - he's been a supporter of the brand for as long as any of us can remember. So with the 2011 NBA All-Star Game going down in Los Angeles, it was only right that the Doggfather teamed up with Originals to work on some Laker-themed footwear. Snoop's collection included a special edition colorway of the adiZero adiPure and this Freemont Mid, which featured a look inspired by his debut album Doggystyle. What put these over the top was the special edition dog house packaging created for Snoop's personal pair.
One of the year's biggest stories was adidas Basketball's unveiling of the adiZero Crazy Light, the lightest basketball model to ever hit the market. Tipping the scales at just 9.8 ounces, the Crazy Light debuted adidas' SPRINTWEB exoskeleton technology, seamlessly bonded synthetic layers attached to a nylon base for weight reduction and increased support. Further weight reduction was achieved through fusing the SPRINTFRAME and TORSION systems. What really got people talking was an aggressive marketing strategy that took aim at competing models from Nike, Jordan Brand and Under Armour. Heading into 2012, adidas' Crazy Light has yet to be topped in terms of weight.
Over the summer, adidas Originals dropped this revamped version of the two-decade old ZX 8000, designed with a seamless synthetic and mesh upper that made for a comfortable and breathable wear. Putting the classic silhouette over the top was a great colorway - strong black and neon yellow hits on a subtle tech grey base that made these a no-brainer for your summer lineup.
There were plenty of great Rose 1.5 colorways that could have been singled out, but the green-based St. Patrick's Day shoe was in a league of its own. Matching the Bulls' St. Patty's Day alternate uniforms, the well-blocked shoe featured a dark green suede and SPRINTSKIN upper with contrasting Intense Green accents and a white leather toe cap. Other details included a four-leaf clover magic eye graphic on the tongue and notation of Rose's "lucky" draft date on the insole.
These Run DMC-inspired kicks weren't only one of adidas' biggest drops of the year - they were one of the biggest 2011 releases period. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Run DMC's classic track "My adidas," these Superstar 80s featured just about everything one could ask for. A dookie rope chain lace jewel, 3M reflective paneling, 1986 embroidery and Jam Master Jay logo on the heel are just some of the reasons we fell in love with this shoe.
My personal favorite shoe from the NBA's 2011 Christmas Day match-ups was the "L-Train" (or "Windy City") colorway of the adidas adiZero Rose 2. Designed with an anodized upper to give the brushed metal look of subway cars, the "L-Trains" paid homage to D-Rose's Chicago roots with inspiration drawn from the city's mass transit system. All flights are cancelled - except in Chicago, and the L-Train is the ride you take to O'Hare for liftoff.
Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Chicago-area retailers LDRS and adidas Originals teamed up on the unique Forum Mid Moccasin, Inspired by the concept of the Potawatomi being the first settlers in Chicago and Leaders being the city's first streetwear store. Design elements included removable moccasin fringe at the heel, zig zag stitching and leather laces.
In the past, I've felt like adidas Basketball has missed the target on some potentially big marketing opportunities. They definitely made great strides in 2011, and the "Sun" adiPure is a great example of that. Released during the NBA's All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, these bright kicks were an instant eye-catcher on TV screens. Serge Ibaka didn't bring the Slam Dunk Contest Title back to the Republic of Congo with him, but those "Sun" adiPures sure looked good gliding from the free throw line.
It was a big year of unveils for adidas, and in August, they officially introduced the adiPure Trainer. Described as the first ever barefoot gym shoe, the adiPure Trainer features a toe separation design and minimalist profile that allows natural movement by harnessing the body's natural motion mechanics.
Back in March, Japanese retailer atmos unveiled this reptilian edition of the Superstar 80s from the Originals range. During the day, the shoe was dressed in a black faux snakeskin-textured leather upper, offset by contrasting white leather accenting and a cream-colored toecap and sole. By night, the same silhouette featured an all-over glow effect.
To celebrate the launch of the adiZero Crazy Light, adidas applied the same lightweight tech concept to one of their most popular hoop models of all time, 1984's Forum Mid. This version took on a newly-designed welded SPRINTWEB upper, supported by SPRINTFRAME technology. This particular colorway also featured the same splatter pattern that appeared on the Derrick Rose colorway of the Crazy Light.
Designated as an adidas Originals Cornerstone this year, designer Jeremy Scott continued to make his presence felt on the footwear landscape with his unorthodox creations. The newest shoe to join his famed "bears" lineup were the JS Pandas, which of course took on the features of a cuddly stuffed panda bear. Adding the sporty headband on the panda's head was a nice touch as well.
The EQT Support trainer celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year, so a few hot colorways of the timeless model were to be expected. This pair dropped as part of the Originals Spring 2011 Collection and featured a look that made it an easy go-to deep into the summer. White and grey handled an upper constructed with suede and open-hole mesh, while bright blue and lemon yellow accents really brought the shoe to life with true Spring/Summer feel.
Maybe it's hard to market a big man in basketball footwear, but models like the Superbeast have adidas on the right path. Proving that centers don't need to wear bulky, over-padded sneakers, the Superbeast featured adidas' SPRINTSKIN technology, which aims to reduce weight without compromising stability. Unique large 3-Stripe branding on the side panels made the Superbeast stand out, while visible cushioning windows and a translucent outsole provided a nice finish touch below.
This late 2011 entry had just about everything you can ask for in a collaboration - a timeless model, versatility, a great backstory and an even better look. Frank the Butcher gave us a taste of his neighborhood in Boston with this three-pack, designed in rich tonal looks that reflect the upper-class appeal of the Forum Crest Hi in his neck of the woods back in the day. The shoes were comprised of premium pig suede uppers and featured gold embroidered crest logos on the tongue and back panel.